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March 29, 2005

Comments

al

I listened to this on CSPAN, and I thought Cdl. McCarrick competently put forward the position.

I was disappointed that there was the distraction of the Death Penalty initiative, and I'm the first to critique positions on this issue that are vague, but I didn't detect any equivocation in Cdl. McCarrick on this issue.

Tom

The sentence that horrified Justin Torres -- "Well, then it would have been good if she had said that at the very beginning and that her situation would have been such that one could say, well, this for her, this would be an extraordinary means, because the ordinary means you have to continue to do just like we have to eat." -- means, I'm pretty sure, that if a) she had made known that she did not want extraordinary means used to preserve her life; and b) her life was being preserved by extraordinary means; then the extraordinary means could be withdrawn.

I don't see the problem with speaking of food that "is not going to be effective," either. Ineffective care is not mandatory.

Cornelius AMDG

You're right, Tom -- where does Torres get the idea that effectiveness doesn't matter?

This is just more evidence of the instinctive "blame the bishops for everything" mentality that pervades the blogosphere. Would it be impossible for people to praise Cardinal McCarrick just once, for this limited good act?

MG

Maybe "ineffective food" means something like food that won't be digested because the body's digestive system has stopped working. It wouldn't be wrong to withhold food that can't be digested anyway, would it?

msp

I am not familiar with Justin Torres. Is he especially qualified to dispute the Cardinal's interpretation of the Church's position? I thought the Cardinal was pretty darn clear that the feeding tube should not be withdrawn in this particular situation. Is the ultimate issue here whether it is appropriate for Catholics to have a living will that provides that nutrition and hydration may be withheld?

Richard

St. John Chrystostom he's not.

But then we don't necessarily need a Chrysostom to explain the relatively straightforward teaching of the Church here.

Sayeth the Cardinal:

"A feeding tube is life support."

Well, no, it's not. Or if it is, we're *all* on life support.

An extremely unfortunate choice of words.

And I think "The Thing Is" is right to single out this sentence:

"Well, then it would have been good if she had said that at the very beginning and that her situation would have been such that one could say, well, this for her, this would be an extraordinary means..."

Sorry, folks, but this is problematic. If Terri Schiavo had said, ante-injury, that if I am in a minimally conscious state as a result of mishap, and only food and water is needed to sustain me, that I consider that extraordinary means and I want it withdrawn because I don't want to live like that - and this seems to be waht the Cardinal is saying - then that's a problem. And the Church can't condone it.

My fear here is that the Schiavo case will get loads of Americans - Catholics - to rush out to their lawyers to draw up living wills that say that if they end up like Terri, they want to be starved to death.

Cardinal McCarrick failed to make fully clear that this is not square with Catholic teaching and respect for life. A valuable teaching moment is at hand, and - in my opinion - he failed to make adequate use of it.

But then this is hardly a first for Cardinal McCarrick, alas.

msp

I think that probably lots of people, Catholics too, already have living wills that allow food and hydration to be withheld if you are in a persistent vegetative state. That is the statutory language used in many living wills in my state. Would you draw a distinction between a minimally conscious state and a persistent vegetative state or is it the same under the teaching as you see it? (this is just a general question; I am not saying that Terri is properly diagnosed as persistent vegetative state, there are too many valid questions about that). Thanks for your insight.

al

Richard,
No doubt it could have been more clearly expressed.

But compared to what Stephanopolous and the Cardinal talked about next--communicating Pro Abortion politicians, and whether you can vote for pro aborts, I thought it was resoundingly, well, adequate.

To be sure, the Cardinal has said some things which were indefensible, such as his position that homosexuals can be ordained, which he articulated in the Washington Times.

This, I thought, though was somewhat defensible.

Richard

Hello Al,

A fair point.

Christopher Rake

To be sure, the Cardinal has said some things which were indefensible, such as his position that homosexuals can be ordained, which he articulated in the Washington Times

No reason they can't be. They have been, they are, and they will be, and many homosexual priests have served admirably.

William Bloomfield

Richard and Justin are right on this one.

If you read the entire transcript, you will see that the Cardinal uses a lot of words. Some of the things he said are wrong (as Richard and Justin pointed out), but perhaps just as important, nowhere does the Cardinal clearly communicating the Church's teaching on whether food and water constitute extraordinary means.

All the Cardinal needed to say was what the Pope said last year: "the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act."

Our priests, Bishops, and Cardinals are supposed to be teachers. This was an opportunity for the Cardinal to teach. Once again, that opportunity was wasted.

Kevin Miller

It seems to me, though, that the Cardinal did avail himself of the opportunity to teach that what's being done to Terri is wrong. Even if the glass is half empty, it's also half full.

William Bloomfield

Professor Miller,

I was in one of your classes at FUS. Interesting that we should meet again in the blogosphere.

Anyway, I wouldn't have been satisfied if you, as my college professor had only given me a half-full glass. I expect even more from a Cardinal Archbishop.

tom

It seems to me that the Catholic Church is poorly served by many of its clergy (Cardinal McCarrick, Frs McBrien, Drinan and others)who apparently either haven't the foggiest notion of what the Church's position is on the most siginificant moral theology issues of the day, or can't articulate it. What a shame and scandal. Is preferment in the Church primarily for well connected time servers? Many of us are Catholic in spite of not because of the clergy.

By the way show me where same sex attraction is a bar to ordination. It seems to me that such a condition is a cross to bear and if not acted on is just one of many crosses that afflict and bless the human condition. I could be wrong and am willing to be enlightened.

Septimus

It may not be morally right for someone to refuse food when it could do one good; and, by extension, to give such as an advanced directive... but perhaps what the cardinal meant is that, were that advanced directive indisputably there, we wouldn't have the same wrenching issue--because we don't force-feed people, do we?

CB

If SSA is 'intrinsically disordered", How can the Church ordain "intrinsically disordered"
people?

Mark R

His Eminence is quite an engaging and personable preacher, but not a systematic thinker. I give him the benefit of a doubt that he is doing his best.

michigancatholic

I know a lot of people who consume "ineffective food." They don't get anything done before they eat, and it doesn't change after they eat. Does that mean we can just stop feeding them?

Tom Kelty

Not just on this blog,but on many other catholic blog sites, I am seeing a great deal of a totally emotional response to a very sad case, Terri's. It is characterized by lashing out at anyone who attempts to cite long standing catholic moral principles related to ANH.
I say they consistently fail to cite support from the teaching magisterium and in fact bash those who are authorized to teach, vg local, state and national bishops and various moral theologians. Why do they twisy and turn? Is it simply "having itching ears"? Or do they feel that they grow in stature somehow by casually thumbing their noses?

Richard

Hello Tom,

You have an argument of sorts on bishops.

But moral theologians don't carry that same mandate.

And if they have refused to obtain (as they are required to by Ex Corde Ecclesiae and canon law) a mandatum from their bishop to teach as a licensed Catholic theologian, they are fair game as far as I am concerned.

The situation is so bad that I would say a solid majority of members of the CTSA are in a posture of open dissent on major doctrines from the magisterium.

Erstwhile liberal Jacques Maritain saw it all coming way back in 1965 in The Peasant of the Garonne when he acidly remarked, "The wind has changed - that alone is the decisive argument for the creative geniuses who are in the wind."

Joe London

The Schiavo case shows a considerable amount of hypocrisy.



Let's consider some data:



45 million people are without health insurance in the US (read here)

11 million children are without health insurance in the US (read here).

5.2 million more people under 65 became uninsured since Bush took office in 2000 (read here)



The Institude of Medicine of the National Academies has estimated that lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States (read here).
Not people in conditions as extreme as Terri Schiavo (or the infant Sun Hudson, who died last Thursday, or Spiro Nikolouzos): rather, people who could live a normal life and are not given a chance, because they don't have money.



Where are pro-life-army's indignated voices, raised high in Schiavo's case, for these 18,000 people who die every year? Where is the 'piety' and 'compassion' of George and Jeb and their mates?

Kevin Miller

William: My point is that a half-full glass isn't the same thing as an empty one, and I'm weary of the view that our bishops' statements are nothing but empty glasses (e.g., "wasted," without qualification). Especially when they do, in fact, make the practical point that most needs making, namely, that Terri shouldn't be starved and dehydrated.

Leslie Fain

Breaking news...Fox News is reporting that a Federal Court has agreed to hear the Schiavo appeal..

stuart chessman

" I'll give him the benefit of the doubt...I'll give him the benefit of the doubt." It's been a mantra among "conservative" Catholics for ages now...

Donald R. McClarey

A feeding tube has just been inserted in the Pope. God's commentary on the Schiavo case?

Rick Lugari

Tom,

You will have absolutely no success in “enlightening” me or most others around here, because we base our position on Christ and His Mystical Body, the Holy Roman Catholic Church. It is the same church as that of Sts. Peter, Gregory the Great, Pius V and Pius X. Christ promised that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. Since the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, and Christ is God, and the nature of God is unchangeable, then the nature of the Church is unchangeable. I quote this statement of yours from the “Firing Sisters” combox on this site.

I like the Holy Spirit's solution. Within one or two hundred years there will be no hierarchy as we now know it. There will be a church as Christ told us and of course the Eucharist and sacraments. But the old days of pray, pay and obey will disappear. We will not use terms like priest and laity (Christ never used the words Bishop, Priest or laity.)

I could write an entire dissertation on the fundamental errors and condemned heresies in that statement. Then another one on how with that belief as a basis, one could never come to a legitimate conclusion as to what the Church teaches regarding life issues. Suffice it to say, that it is not Catholic teaching by any stretch of the imagination, and it is precisely what many Protestants believe. It is your decision to believe that stuff or not, but know that those beliefs are at the heart of why you come to a very different conclusion than most of us regarding “Church teaching”.

Reviewing what I wrote above, I think it may seem like a flame. It is not a flame and I don't care to take anything away from it. It is what it is. I will pray for you.

Jim

Tom wrote:

"It seems to me that the Catholic Church is poorly served by many of its clergy (Cardinal McCarrick, Frs McBrien, Drinan and others)who apparently either haven't the foggiest notion of what the Church's position is on the most siginificant moral theology issues of the day, or can't articulate it."

1) When was the last time you heard about someone leaving the seminary because they couldn't handle the curriculum? Seminaries have become some of the laxest educational institutions on the planet. They're so happy to have any students at all, they don't want to do anything to make them leave.

2) How many priests do you know who avail themselves of continuing education of a theological nature? Not many. Most priests don't read and keep current in the area of theology.

Unfortunately, theological education has become a "hurdle" or "obstacle" that has to be negotiated on the way to ordination.

Moral theology, in particular, is not static: the principles may be fixed, but the applications, especially in the area of bioethics, are still developing.

Maureen

I'm not sure who it was, but there was some priest on network TV on Sunday who mentioned JPII's teaching that feeding tubes were always ordinary care. Which he followed up by saying that of course this only counted _in Europe_, because Europe had national health care. In America food would be expensive, so that didn't count here.

It amazes me how these people try to weasel out of this. "Ya gotta give food and water to sick folks" doesn't seem all that complex.

Rick Lugari

I'm waiting to hear the charge, "The pope changed the teaching of the Church and it was because he knew that he would be going on the feeding tube. How hypocritical."

Rich Leonardi

Re: Tom Kelty

At some point you have to ask yourself what benefit comes from debating a cranky, conspiracy-mongering dissident whose decades-long antipathy toward the Church stems from being denied his 'right' to be a priest.

I've reached that point.

Patrick Sweeney

The link appears good, but the blog is down. Last night in the comment boxes there I wrote that Cardinal McCarrick never misses the opportunity to miss an opportunity to teach the Catholic faith with clarity.

In moments on TV, don't focus and what's complicated, "in discussion", etc. -- Teach what the Church teaches. Be prepared and if you are prepared, look and sound like you are prepared. The statement of the Holy Father "the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act." applies directly to Terri's case and the Cardinal never got around to saying this simple statement.

If Terri was on "life support", then we're all on "life support" by eating and drinking. Are we prepared to starve everyone who can't feed themselves and speak up? What's so complicated about that?

Tom Kelty

Dear Pope,

Don't let them do to you what they did to me.
After they ignored my wishes exoressed to my husband Michael, they continued to feed me for FIFTEEN YEARS. Please Holy Father, I watched two of my sisters die lingering deaths on respirators. I knew very clearly that I did not want to linger on artificial life support. Think very carefully about entering this twilight existence. Or do you believe that world could not go on without you? Some of us are like that.

Tom Kelty

She signed it....your obedient daughter,
Terri Schiavo

Eileen R

The Schiavo case shows a considerable amount of hypocrisy.

Joe London, it's not actually hypocricy that everyone can't do everything at the same time and believe in the same solutions for every social problem and rank everything as equally important.

I'm a Canadian, and a shocked at the US health insurance situation, but I actually would rank Terri Schiavo's case as more important because governments actively killing citizens is something I have this weird little thing about.

Seriously, though, have you considered what the euthanasia agenda that we're fighting here is going to do to people without health insurance or with pretty rubbishy health insurance? If you think it's bad now, just wait till HMOs and govt organizations see pressuring patients into death as the way to make ends meet.

Eileen R

Tom, pretending to write letters as Terri Schiavo is just ghoulish. And you wonder why people are increasingly ignoring you?

Richard

(Christ never used the words Bishop, Priest or laity.)

St. Paul certainly did.

Christ may or may not have, but we have no written record of it. But the Epistles were written by men who had met and talked with Christ.

eadfrith

Tom, you are a disgusting man.

Mike Petrik

Christ presumably never said anything about sex with animals either, so what.

Tom Kelty

RELIGION AND ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY INTERVIEW WITH DR. JOHN COLLINS HARVEY MAY 21,2004
EPISODE NO.738 HE IS CHAIRMAN OF THE BIOETHICS COMMITTEE AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL AND A PRACTICING CATHOLIC WELL VERSED AND ACTIVE IN PVS AND IN THE MORAL GUIDELINES FOR SUCH CARE.

If you read nothing else on Terri and her situation, read this because it will bring you up to speed on what catholic teaching is. The Pope did not dramatically and quietly reverse 500 years of consistent teaching, no matter what al says.

Tom Kelty

Learn what it means when there is an underlying fatal pathology or insult (blood flow to cerebral cortex stopped long enough to create PVS) and other situations.

Then learn that the main criterion for benefit can not be the mere prolongation of physical life because life is not an absolute good.

Learn how to balance the total burden versus the total benefit of the treatment. Do not deceive yourself that a feeding tube is not a high tech medical procedure which must be monitored. It is in the same class as respirators, dialysis or an artificial heart. It is not natural like bathing and other direct care. It costs $60,000 to $80,000 per year. Costs are a factor.

R Lugari

Tom, this is becoming laughable now. If you want to maintain your view, fine. Just don't claim it is Catholic teaching. You also keep claiming that the pope is in error on Catholic teaching, yet you offer us stuff that a fourth grade catechism student could identify as heresy. Like this gem, "I like the Holy Spirit's solution. Within one or two hundred years there will be no hierarchy as we now know it. There will be a church as Christ told us and of course the Eucharist and sacraments. But the old days of pray, pay and obey will disappear. We will not use terms like priest and laity (Christ never used the words Bishop, Priest or laity.)"

Sorry Tom. You are NOT more Catholic than the pope, you're not even close. However, you may be more Lutheran than Luther.

Kevin

Did anyone catch yesterday's sermon on EWTN? I saw it on the web last night. The homilist was a priest from a Pro-Life group. He was brilliant. In his sermon he specifically called out Bishop Lynch for his silence and unwillingness to minister either Terry or her parents through this ordeal. And said that Bishop Lynch forbade his priests to minister to them.

He asked us to pray for all of our bishops and clergy that they may regain the zeal of Jesus Christ in these matters.

I don't know if it is available on the EWTN site archive. Worth a browse if it is.

michigancatholic

Tom, better watch what you spend. You might have to do a cost-benefit analysis on yourself. Then where would you be??

Some people have no grasp of philosophy, I swear.

The only thing worse than a nation which kills its citizens is one that convinces them that their all F******** ARISTOTLE.

Go find yourself a nice copy of Dick, Jane and Sally and leave the rest of us alone.

mayangrl

Eileen,

As for governments actively killing their citizens, it is something we already do very well.

G-Man

Tom Kelty says: "Then learn that the main criterion for benefit can not be the mere prolongation of physical life because life is not an absolute good."

But this doesn't come even close to following. Just because something isn't an absolute good doesn't mean it can't be the main criterion for something.

Presumably what you mean is that the fact that something promotes physical life doesn't trump everything else; but no one ever said that it did. If, on the other hand, what you mean is that physical life doesn't count for anything at all, that without spiritual benefit there's no benefit at all, then you're essentially denying that we're animals and embracing instead the gnostic view that we're souls trapped in bodies.

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